Protecting our rights
to hunt, fish and to a clean and healthful environment.
2022 Montana Public Trust Promise
The public trust, including public lands, waters, fish and wildlife belong to all of us and must not become private property to be bought and sold.
If elected, I promise, as required by my Oath of Office, to protect and defend Montana’s Constitution, particularly our right to hunt and fish and our right to a clean and healthful environment.
And, I promise to reject any effort to reduce (in terms of value) public lands or turn our public waters, fish and wildlife into private property.
A universal plea from past heroes and the generations yet to arrive:
One of the core principles of our great nation is that opportunity is equal, and that outcomes are the product of personal effort and a level playing field – not birthright or personal wealth. In declaring our sovereignty from the King’s rule, that which had been owned by the King, including wildlife, was now owned by the people, all of us. Our new system, however, was not without flaws. Since we all owned the wildlife, there were no limits on how much, for what purpose and by which method a person was permitted to harvest animals. As a consequence, by the late 1800s Montana, along with most of the nation found itself devoid of most wildlife.
Commercial hunting had essentially removed not only the mighty buffalo, but also the deer, elk, moose, beavers, bears, and even birds. Anything that had commercial value had been chased to the brink, for profit. From these darkest of days and from this most desolate landscape, however, arose an incredible story of restoration. A powerful backlash to this desecration of the nation’s wildlife, coalesced around conservation pioneers who relentlessly pressed for reformation. These early conservationists instigated, as well as instituted, laws that began to reflect a conscientious attitude toward wildlife – ultimately defining an ethical sporting code that uniquely emerged in our democracy. This is our story, and we are proud to be a part of it.
For the next 100+ years, citizen hunters and anglers began the work of recovering the resource that had been slaughtered to the edge of oblivion. Sacrificing their opportunity for the benefit of the resource and future generations, hunters began the journey to restore wildlife to the landscape. Along that epic road, the hunter found willing partners with big brains, broad shoulders and strong backs. Hunters partnered with biologists, public lands managers, private landowners, tax payers, citizens and policy makers from across the political spectrum to enact a set of principles designed to restore a pillaged resource to this magnificent landscape.
Those efforts would later become known as the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, and that model has restored the wildlife resource that we enjoy today. A far cry from the desolation they inherited, our predecessors delivered to us a landscape full of wildlife. Many of these incredible principles are embodied in our Montana Constitution. Now 50-years-old and ever-brilliant, our constitution is a balanced and extraordinary social contract between the people of Montana and their government that secures a cherished way of life based upon a guarantee of freedom and independence. Beware of those who seek your vote with the promise of preserving our Montana way of life, but actively seek changes to undermine or alter that way of life.
In the last Montana legislative session, a number of efforts were made to weaken the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. The legislature resurrected a twice-failed bill to override the citizens’ initiative prohibiting outfitter guaranteed tags and passed it without public comment. It proposed the prohibition of certain buyers from purchasing your land and proposed that certain landowners receive a preference to secure tags in limited draw districts. Profit can never be the foundation stone upon which the public trust doctrine rests.
Our coalition was founded on the belief that the vast majority of Montanans don’t want to return to the “King’s deer” prototype any more than they want to be excluded altogether. Both extremes lead to the same place; a landscape largely devoid of opportunity for every day citizens. Instead, we believe the vast majority of Montanans want to continue and strengthen the incredible success of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. In a representative democracy, the people don’t make the choice, we elect policymakers to make this choice on our behalf.
Because this is our form of government, we have sent the above commitment request to every legislative candidate in Montana, because we believe voters deserve to know, before they cast their almighty ballot, whether the recipient of their vote is going to defend the Montana Constitution and the principles of the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, or vote instead to privatize our public resources for the benefits of the few, and thus further erode public hunting opportunities.
On this page you will find a list of people who are supporting this effort and we would appreciate it if you would add your endorsement to this document. In addition, you will be able to track legislative candidate responses here and we hope you will consider the candidates’ responses before you make your choice in November.